While this was going on, the Captain, as the day drew nearer, had been making arrangements for a body of police to be present—a precaution which he always thought desirable when large numbers of men are to be brought together. And, indeed, against beggars, and against all other inconveniences by which the pleasure of a festival can be disturbed, he had made effectual provision.
Edward and his confidante, on the contrary, were mainly occupied with their fireworks. They were to be let off on the side of the middle water in front of the great ash-tree. The party were to be collected on the opposite side, under the planes, that at a sufficient distance from the scene, in ease and safety, they might see them to the best effect, with the reflections on the water, the water-rockets, and floating-lights, and all the other designs.
Under some other pretext, Edward had the ground underneath the plane-trees cleared of bushes and grass and moss. And now first could be seen the beauty of their forms, together with their full height and spread, right up from the earth. He was delighted with them. It was just this very time of the year that he had planted them. How long ago could it have been? he asked himself. As soon as he got home he turned over the old diary books, which his father, especially when in the country, was very careful in keeping. He might not find an entry of this particular planting, but another important domestic matter, which Edward well remembered, and which had occurred on the same day, would surely be mentioned. He turned over a few volumes. The circumstances he was looking for was there. How amazed, how overjoyed he was, when he discovered the strangest coincidence! The day and the year on which he had planted those trees, was the very day, the very year, when Ottilie was born.
THE long-wished-for morning dawned at last on Edward; and very soon a number of guests arrived. They had sent out a large number of invitations, and many who had missed the laying of the foundation-stone, which was reported to have been so charming, were the more careful not to be absent on the second festivity.
Before dinner the carpenter’s people appeared, with music, in the court of the castle. They bore an immense garland of flowers, composed of a number of single wreaths, winding in and out, one above the other; saluting the company, they made request, according to custom, for silk handkerchiefs and ribands, at the hands of the fair sex, with which to dress themselves out. When the castle party went into the dining-hall, they marched off singing and shouting, and after amusing themselves a while in the village, and coaxing many a riband out of the women there, old and young, they came at last, with crowds behind them and crowds expecting them, out upon the height where the park-house was now standing. After dinner, Charlotte rather held back her guests.